Table du Gourmet, Riquewihr, France
Had lunch in at this restaurant in Riquewihr. The style is a bold mix of modern twists and traditional ingredients, not unlike the statement making decor - heavy red walls in a dining room that is supported by the traditional wooden beams, stout and dark.
I wonder if the chef here had taken a few pages from other restaurants in the area. The amuse bouche is a shrimp and crab bisque not unlike the one I had ate Au Crocodile. The shrimp flavor wasn't as intense, but Table du Gourmet's version was piqued by an intersting bit of spiciness.
Next, a bite of grilled meat with cream sauce, green onion and a marsala sauce - a nice echo of Au Crocodile's.
The foie grass terrine was good - sweetened with a dessertworthy caramel sauce, a fig puree with a lovely concentrated flavor and my favorite touch - hazelnuts! The combination of flavors is not meant to be subtle but the forward effect of sweet fruit, golden caramel and a woodsy nutty crunch from the lightly toasted hazel was exceptionally enjoyable.
The main dish was a hunk of sandre (pike perch, according to my phrasebook) with a very creamy texture - a very well cooked fish. It rests with an Alsatian hominess on a bed of sauerkraut (I had read about this combo served in several Colmar restaurants). Nearby are crispy leaves of potato and there is a cream sauce that puts everything together.
Dessert was a chocolate medley - orange sorbet covered with drizzled arcs of chocolate and reinforced by a paper thin piece of candided orange, chocolate mousee with shards of hazelnut crumble, and a lighter chocolatey diplomat (a molded dessert not unlike panna cotta) with its thin crisp chocolate wafer.
The beautiful presentation of all the dishes and their ability to pull of a work intensive dessert like this makes me think that this ambitious kitchen is going to do really well.
Service was friendly, solicitious and the mood was casual. When they noticed I didn't smoke and a couple next me pulled out a cigarette, they offered to move me right away.
All in all, a bright and delicious lunch.
Ah, the essence of good service is noticing your customer's unstated preferences and trying to meet them.
This can manifest itself in all kinds of ways, from importand, as in your situation, to quite small. For example, this weekend at See's Candies when it came time to offer us a sample, the clerk offered us a California Brittle (peanut brittle with milk chocolate) but asked if it was okay since it was milk chocolate. It wasn't until that moment that I realized all our selections had been dark chocolate, but obviously she had noticed.
That attitude, even in such a trivial transaction, is what makes good service.